A PREVIOUS connection to Lakeside through Athletes in Action, knowing the basketball and church would provide an ideal base for him and his young family and the lure of the West Australian sun all made new Lightning coach Dave Daniels more than willing to make the move in 2018.
Daniels has had a remarkable history with basketball both as a player and coach but it was his connection to Athletes in Action that provided his links to Lakeside long before he was appointed head coach of the Men’s team at the Lightning for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
He visited Lakeside as a player with Athletes in Action some 23 years ago, his wife Vicki had also made a similar trip 18 years ago and that link to the church and basketball made Daniels more than open to the possibility of moving across the other side of the world.
Combined with the fact that he was after something fresh with his basketball and Daniels couldn’t have been happier to join the Lakeside family both as part of the basketball program and the church.
Not for a second since arriving have Daniels, his wife or their three daughters been anything but delighted with the move.
On the court, Daniels’ Lakeside team sits with a 4-7 record but they now have Daniel Alexander and Bryan Michaels on board along with the leadership of Jarrad Prue, shooting abilities of John Isenbarger and continued emergence of the likes Nick Palleschi, Matt Vinci, Hayden Bell, Rowan Mackenzie and Michael Garbellini.
But for Daniels, it’s about a much bigger picture than just wins and losses on the basketball court and he brings a wealth of experience with him as he tries to make a real difference to the lives of everyone he comes in contact with.
As a player, Daniels had a tremendous college career at Colorado Christian College before going on to be a regular member of the Canadian national team including at the 1998 World Championships and 2000 Sydney Olympics where he was back up point guard to the great Steve Nash.
Daniels spent 10 years working with Athletes in Action before he returned to Colorado Christian College as head coach from 2005 to 2011.
Following that, he moved to a role as head coach at Northwest Nazarene University before most recently working at Point Guard College working on overseeing camps and programs throughout the United States and beyond.
But Daniels was after something fresh and when the Lakeside opportunity came up, it was something that instantly appealed to him and his family was right on board too.
“I actually came out here 23 years ago with Athletes in Action to Lakeside. It’s kind of interesting how God works because Lakeside has been part of my journey as a basketball player and in my spiritual journey,” Daniels said.
“My wife Vicki and I were on staff with a ministry called Athletes in Action and it just has a real similar focus to Lakeside. We love basketball and want to compete, and want to develop people but our saying is that it’s more than a game.
“I love basketball and I’ve been around it my whole life, and I’ve been around it enough at the same time to know there’s more to life than the game. But I do think that basketball provides a great platform just to learn and grow as a person.
“It’s just a really good fit so when Anthony (Palmieri) got hold of me I was immediately interested. I coached college basketball in the States for 10 years and got to a place where I was pretty burnt out to be honest.
“I really believe that this was an atmosphere and community that I could focus on developing people on the court but off the court is even more important. It’s just a great fit for my family and I.”
Whether or not Daniels would have considered a move across the other side of the world for basketball if it wasn’t also linked to a church isn’t something easy to answer, but he’s just thankful he didn’t have that decision to make.
He knew that he was after something new and fresh in his life coming into 2018. He didn’t know that could mean ending up in Australia and at Lakeside, but when that position became available and he heard from pastor Anthony Palmieri, it brought back fond memories for both him and wife Vicki.
And once the decision was made and the Daniels family made the decision to move to Perth, they have fitted in instantly and he couldn’t be more thankful.
“I don’t know if my family and I would have made a move this significant if it wasn’t with a church connection. It definitely made it a really attractive thing. I had met Anthony and Siobhan previously and my wife actually came here 18 years ago on a trip with AIA so we had met people here,” Daniels said.
“It has a close connection with Athletes in Action so I have had three or four friends who have come and spent several months here through the years. There is just that natural connection and then the Lakeside church family has just been so inviting to us.
“We have three daughters who are 14, 11 and nine so it’s a pretty big move but to have a community like that which welcomes you makes it that much easier. They are competitive and want to win, don’t get me wrong, but it’s more than that.
“My friends back home ask if it’s been tough and I almost feel guilty when I tell them that it hasn’t been a hard transition. Perth is like paradise, first of all. The weather is unbelievable and it’s not just the Lakeside people, the Australian people are just so friendly, hospitable and welcoming.
“It has just been a blessing and I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys either. They come to training and work hard, and nobody is selfish and they all want to do what is best for the team.
“It’s a little bit crazy only training two nights a week because back in the States we were going six days of the week, so I tell them Tuesdays and Thursdays are my favourite days of the week when I get to be with them. They do work hard and come in to do individuals when they can as well so I get to see them other than that. But overall it has been great.”
Daniels has no doubt that a big part of them settling in so quickly is because of how well all five members of the family have thrown themselves into life at Lakeside.
“It has been really good. Obviously there will be little things here and there that pop up but we are at Fremantle Christian College so that’s been great. It’s a nice, small school with great teachers who have been really welcoming,” Daniels said.
“Because we are so immersed here at Lakeside seven days a week, my kids come here after school and they are all playing basketball now. My two little ones are just starting having not ever really played organised basketball.
“Monday is the only day of the week that we don’t have something on at Lakeside and sometimes Saturdays. My wife is even playing in the ladies league and I play too. To me, as long as we are all together it works.
“If it was just me here working all the time away from my family, that would be hard and I did struggle with that balance in the States. But because we are all here together it feels a lot different and I’m really grateful that we’ve been able to find that balance.”